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UK stocks jump 3.2% on Covid-19 case stabilisation hopes

By BFN News | 08:30 AM | Monday 06 April, 2020


UK stocks opened substantially higher on Monday after the rate of coronavirus infections in some global hotspots showed faint signs of stabilizing. The pound, meanwhile, was pressured by news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been admitted to hospital because his Covid-19 symptoms had persisted for 10 days since diagnosis. At 0821, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 173.85 points, or 3.2%, at 5.589.35. Engineering group Rolls-Royce rallied 12% to 281.7p, having announced cash conservation measures that included scrapping its final dividend and cutting staff salaries by around 10%. Defence contractor Babcock International rose 4.4% to 358.8p as it announced that developments over the next two months would determine whether it would pay a final dividend. Struggling Gulf focused hospital owner NMC Health said lender Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank had filed an application in a British court to have the company sent into administration. NMC Health said it was talking to the bank in an attempt to have the application withdrawn. The company's shares were currently suspended from trading. Copper miner Antofagasta advanced 3.2% to 781.6p, despite shuttering its Los Pelambres expansion project in Chile for an estimated maximum period of 120 days due to the coronavirus. Book and convenience retailer WH Smith climbed 8.8% to £10.99, even as it announced that it was in the advanced stages of preparation for an equity raising. Software company Sage found 2.3% to 570.83p despite cancelling a £250m share buyback programme, while warning that it was expected to miss its full-year revenue and margin guidance. Oil services company Petrofac gained 5.0% to 206.63p, having scrapped its 2019 final dividend on reduced its headcount by 20%. Thermal processing services provider Bodycote rallied 8.0% to 526p, with its proposal to pay a final dividend 'under review'. Measurement tool company Spectris reversed 0.7% to £22.79 as it scrapped a special dividend and postponed a final dividend. Spectris said first-quarter trading had been impacted by the pandemic, with like-for-like sales slipping 10% on-year. Wagamama and Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group jumped 12% to 40p after it scored a covenant waiver and facility increase from its lenders. Restaurant Group also said it had shrunk its board to five non-executive directors from six, while cutting director and executive salaries. Recruitment company SThree gained 2.7% to 211p, even as it scrapped its final dividend and cut executive salaries by 20%. Furniture and flooring retailer ScS shed 2.9% to 151.5p as it canceled its interim dividend and said outgoing chief executive David Knight had agreed not to retire before the end of July 2021 to offer flexibility during a challenging period. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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